Ski Trip: Hoch-Ybrig

Half a dozen ski trips in December is not bad, not too bad at all. Number six turned out to be a trip to a small place in Kanton Schwyz that I’ve been meaning to try for a while, a place called Hoch-Ybrig. Even the name screams out its rural nature; it’s in the region of Ybrig, but just “hoch” (high) up! Having heard one or two things about it I wasn’t expecting too much, but I figured I’d check it out.

It’s one of those places that’s kind of ridiculous to get to by train; it takes almost twice as long as by car. Fortunately, some German friends of mine were heading over, so I took a 20 minute train to Zug then rode over with them for another 50 minutes, thus shaving 40 minutes off my travel time. Turns out Matthias is a much better skier than I gave him credit for, and far better than me; the man could fly down the slopes.

The snow was kind of crappy, which has little to do with the resort, so I’d like to go back and try it sometime when the snow is better. There were 3 primary chairlifts but almost no lines most of the time, and there were some fairly steep fun pistes. It’s the sort of place where you can see any piste from any other, though, so you don’t have the wandering feel of exploring a mountain. All in all fun for a day trip, but I wouldn’t put in on the “must visit” list, despite a typically Swiss panorama (I didn’t get any shots, but at the top of this page you can see a borrowed picture of the mountain).

Two points did stand out as being worth noting, though. First, there were more restaurants per skier than any other mountain I’ve ever been on. There must have been a seperate restaurant on every piste! Some at the top, some at the bottom, some halfway down; in any case, I had a good raclette for lunch.

Second, I saw more pairs of Stöckli skis there than I have ever seen before. A local brand, I purchased a pair last year and have always been surprised by how few I’ve seen at the bigger resorts, where people apparently prefer Head and Rossignol and other big-name brands. Apparently more local Swiss ski at Hoch-Ybrig, however, and like people everywhere, they prefer to buy local.

Anyway, if you’re in the area, give Hoch-Ybrig a try; but not till you’ve already had your fill of the bigger placse like Flims-Laax or Davos (or even Flumserberg).

Ski Trip: Flumserberg (2)

Well, I went back to Flumserberg today.

I really wasn’t sure if I was going to go or not; I had no plans with anybody, and a little advertisement on Facebook didn’t come up with any hits. But in the end, I decided that I need to practice, and the weather was great, so I grabbed a book for the train and headed off.

I can see Zurich from the top!
I can see Zurich from the top!

As fortune would have it, Nick and Megan were on their way over as well, and sat just one car behind me. We met when we switched trains, then took the gondola up from Unterterzen together. There we parted ways for the morning, while they met some other friends and I skied some of the more aggressive pistes at the top.

These “aggressive” pistes were two of the very few black pistes on this mountain, and weren’t yet open when I was there two weeks ago. With an average of about 20cm powder everywhere, it was very hard in one sense; turning was difficult. In another, though, it was very easy to keep speed down, and there was no sense of fear; falling in powder doesn’t hurt at all.

Looking down a black
Looking down a black

I had some good fun there, but once was enough, and so I headed across the mountain. After lunch with the Deloitters, where I also bumped into Nathan and Claire, we headed up and down the mountain as a group. I worked on my form a bit and just hung out with the others, sometimes going with the less advanced people and sometimes pushing it a bit more with the more experienced folks. At one point, Nathan and I hit some pretty deep powder on an almost vertical incline as we went looking for a piste that was on the map but not marked anywhere (guess that’s a bit like following your GPS off the road because it says turn left here, eh?). Good times all around.

By the end of the day it got dark and cloudy, and let’s face it – this time of year, you can’t really hope for any sunshine past 16.00 anyway. So we bounced back to the gondola, got in line, and made it down just in time for the 16.58 train back.

Now I need to start planning Christmas weekend’s destinations…